That’s not a title for a subject I ever thought I’d have to write about on this blog, but there it is. Sadly, we have to openly ask such a question in America in 2016. What prompted a cultural discussion about incest is a story which has now gone viral about a mother-son New Mexico couple who are prepared to fight a legal battle (and do whatever else it takes) to be together. Authorities in the State became aware of their relationship and are cracking down. Now there’s a court order instructing them to stay away from each other, but they’re determined to continue their illicit relationship whatever the cost. There’s even a “support and advocacy” organization giving aid to this incestuous duo.
Any of this sound familiar?
Over a decade ago, many Christian and conservative commentators warned that the cultural acceptance of homosexuality would necessarily open the door to acceptance of behaviors like polygamy and incest. I was one of those giving such commentary. As soon as the warning was uttered, the one speaking it was shouted down and accused of engaging in a “slippery-slope fallacy.” Well, the slope is here and the whole country is about to slide down. Last year’s Obergefell decision by the Supreme Court to effectively legalize same-sex “marriage” gave a boost to legal efforts to legalize polygamy. The popularity of television shows like “Big Love” and “Sister Wives” are also aiding in normalizing of this behavior. And after polygamy, incest is apparently the next frontier.
In my humble opinion, it won’t be long before polygamy is culturally accepted in America. Legally speaking, it’s the next shoe to drop. The media and entertainment industries will continue to fuel its acceptance much like they did for the homosexual and “transgender” movements. A bit further down the road, we’ll see the same thing happen with those who practice incest. The propaganda and talking points will emulate the homosexual movement almost verbatim. I can hear it now:
“Hey, Josh. Why are so opposed to this? They’re consenting adults.”
“So what if he has multiple wives? How is their relationship affecting your marriage?”
“How are you affected by this woman’s relationship with her father? Just because you find it icky doesn’t mean it should be illegal.”
“Hey, I thought conservatives were against big government. Why are you in favor of them intruding into people’s bedrooms?”
And I could go on. As you can see, we can literally write the talking points for them. It’s the same strategy just with different forms of sexual depravity. But how did we get here and why is our culture so rapidly going into free fall? This is the direct consequence of Western civilization’s wholesale abandonment of a Christian worldview. Yes, this is what happens when you abandon Scripture as the authoritative standard for conduct in society. The increasingly dominant Secularism is not going to provide a coherent sexual ethos other than, perhaps, a loosely-defined “consent only” ethic. As long as there are consenting adults involved, all is well. But even the issue of consent itself is increasingly open to question.
Can a professing atheist or agnostic argue against incest? He can’t. There is no standard to which he can appeal. All he has are his own personal tastes and preferences. That’s it. Who is he to judge and by what standard? The Christian, by contrast, can appeal to the transcendent authority of God’s revealed word. It is not only a standard, but an infallible one. He can look to Leviticus 18 where incest is condemned by the Lord as sin. More foundationally, the Christian points to Genesis 2:18-25 and Matthew 19:4-6 as God’s positive affirmation of what marriage is supposed to be. It is God alone who created our sexuality and defines its boundaries. Nowhere in the Scriptures does He positively affirm polygamy, incest, or same-sex relationships. The boundaries are clearly marked.
When a society ceases to acknowledge God as creator, sustainer, and lawgiver in order to pursue their own mythical autonomy, we get exactly the kind of moral chaos we see today. The fact that this is happening so quickly is a testament to the swift judgment that is upon our culture as we speak. As it says in Romans 1, we’re being given over to depraved and futile thinking. As a society, we’ve lost the ability to reason about even the most basic of moral issues. There may be a consensus that the incestuous relationship of this mother and son causes our stomachs to turn, but there’s no consensus regarding a standard by which we can judge their conduct. As Dostoevsky reminded us, there is no moral standard without God–all things become permissible.
As we continue to trudge through the 21st century, we need to be reminded that this situation is nothing new for the church. The people of God have seen this kind of thing before. Just as the church survived (and even thrived) under the rule of the sexually immoral Roman Empire, so too will she survive a sexually immoral United States of America. The pressure to conform and affirm will be immense, but Christ calls us to be faithful. Even when the chaos threatens to undo us, may the remnant in America represent a solid rock that will outlast this present culture.